Recurring back problems and muscle spasms are common symptoms of facet joint syndrome. If left untreated, they may pose serious complications or permanent disability. Here are a few helpful information about Facet Joint Syndrome and its possible treatment options.
Top Things To Know About Facet Joint Syndrome
What are Facet Joints?
Facet joints are located between the spinal vertebrae. They enable the bending and twisting of the back and aid in activities such as walking, running, and stretching. These joints limit spinal activity so that each movement is guided.
The facet joint anatomy is designed to provide support to all the weight above each level of the spine. There is small cartilage on the surface of the facet joints that slide against one another at minimal friction point. These cartilage provide stability and flexibility to the vertebrae. The joints also have lubricating agents called synovial fluid which allow them to move against the vertebrae smoothly by reducing the friction between joints.
What is Facet Joint Syndrome?
Facet joint syndrome is commonly characterized by back problems, but may also affect the upper leg or the shoulders. When facet joints start to deteriorate, they begin to swell and become inflamed. This can restrict motion or allow hyperflexion of the spine affecting the other parts of the body near it.
This specific joint condition can be caused by fractures, differing placements of certain parts of the spine, and old age. If left unchecked, it often leads to osteoarthritis which is common among middle-aged to elderly people.
What are the Symptoms of Facet Joints Problems?
Some of the early signs and symptoms of facet joint syndrome include:
- Recurring pain
- Muscle weakness
- Lower back pain
- Discomfort when leaning backward
- Discomfort or pain in the upper leg or knees
Because the joints are highly mechanical in function, they are prone to disintegration and wearing. If not treated early, the discomfort may increase with every movement of the back until it interferes with daily activities such as walking and running.
What Are the Treatment Options for Facet Joint Syndrome?
Treatments vary based on the level of affectation. There are conservative non-surgical forms of facet joint pain treatment, as well as medicinal and surgical options.
Some non-surgical treatments include:
- Posture correction
- Bed rest
- Back massages and exercises
- More controlled back movements
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxers
Facet joint injections are also available but must only be taken upon the advice of a doctor. Instances for surgical remedies are not as common but can be prescribed for those who have more serious cases of facet joint syndrome.
To relieve lower back problems caused by facet joints, here are examples of exercises from Dr. Mike Hsu:
Not all back problems are caused by facet joint syndrome, but it is still best to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment options. Also, remember that a healthy diet, appropriate medication, and an active lifestyle will help avoid further health problems.
Do you have your own facet joint syndrome story? Share it in the comments section below!
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